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Map the System





Registration for Map the System 2020 is now closed.

Learn to Think Differently About Social & Environmental Change

Systems thinking is a tool that is used to understand the different factors that affect a particular social or environmental challenge. Using systems thinking, students learn how to understand highly complex societal problems and develop strategies and partnerships to address them.

Map the System is a global competition that trains students in systems thinking. Participating students research a social, economic, or environmental challenge they care about using a systems thinking approach. Through the process, students begin to understand the diverse factors that are perpetuating or addressing the challenge. At a final competition, students present their research to an esteemed panel of judges, explaining the diverse factors that affect their chosen challenge and potential solutions that may move the system towards positive change. The winner of the Vanderbilt University competition represents the university at the Global Finals at the University of Oxford in England, United Kingdom.

By participating in Map the System, students may:

  • Learn more about a social or environmental challenge they care about or are interested in understanding;
  • Support graduate research, undergraduate capstone projects, or undergraduate Immersion requirements;
  • Identify potential professional opportunities;
  • Build research and presentation skills; and,
  • Establish connections with students, faculty, staff and professionals, both within and beyond the Vanderbilt community;
  • Win the opportunity to represent Vanderbilt University at the global finals, held in June of each year at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Key Dates and Timeline, Spring 2020

  • Registration Deadline: February 4, 2020 at 5:00pm Central Time
  • Workshops: Feb. 11, 2020 (5-6:30); Feb. 25, 2020 (5-6:30pm); March 10, 2020 (5-6:30pm)
  • Submissions Due: March 24, 2020 at 5:00pm Central Time
  • On-campus competition & winner announced: April 10, 2020, 4:30-7:30pm
  • Global Finals in Oxford, United Kingdom: June 5-7, 2020

Who Should Participate?

Map the System is for ALL Vanderbilt University undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in learning more about a societal or environmental challenge and how they may develop strategies to address it. The ideal participant is someone who is:

  • From any major, school, or department at Vanderbilt;
  • Passionate about social and/or environmental change or has experience with a particular societal challenge;
  • Interested in, or curious about, building a career in social impact, social entrepreneurship, advocacy, or policy;
  • Seeking an internship or professional opportunity related to a specific social, economic, or environmental challenge; and/or,
  • Contemplating a new social business model but wants to better understand how their proposed solution fits within, or provides an alternative to, existing initiatives.

What Are Team Requirements?

Teams can be comprised of undergraduate and graduate students who are currently enrolled at Vanderbilt University. Teams may have up to 4 members. Individuals are allowed to register as sole competitors, but collaboration with teammates is strongly encouraged.

What Are Participation Requirements?

Teams or individuals who sign up to participate in the Map the System are required to produce three deliverables in order to be considered for the final on-campus competition in April. Throughout the program, you’ll be guided through the process of how to complete each deliverable. These include:

  • A visual presentation of the system surrounding your chosen topic
  • A 2,000 word paper describing research findings
  • A bibliography of sources used during research

During February and March, teams are invited to attend 2-3 workshops. These workshops o help teams develop the required materials and conduct successful systems research. While these workshops are not mandatory, participation will be taken into consideration when evaluating team materials.

Helpful Resources

Still have questions? Contact Hanes Motsinger at hanes.motsinger AT

On-campus Partners